One game before Jeremy Langford got injured, Ka’Deem Carey did, too.
Carey watched rookie Jordan Howard run away with the Bears’ starting job over the next two games. While Carey was sidelined with a hamstring injury suffered in Game 2, Howard ran 23 times for 111 yards against the Lions. With Carey limited — he ran once for two yards — Howard carried 16 times for 118 yards against the Colts.
“I feel like when one back does good, the other one’s going to do good,” Carey said. “That’s just the thought we have with this group.”
Still, he was eager to see what he could do.
“Real motivated,” Carey said.
The third-year player got his chance the last two games, out-gaining the rookie against both the Jaguars and Packers. His 19 combined carries for 98 yards dwarfed Howard’s 22 for 56.
That might concern Bears fans hoping to hang their future on the rookie, but it fits with coach John Fox’s mandate to ride the hot hand. Whenever Langford returns from a high ankle sprain — if not Oct. 31 against the Vikings, then perhaps after the bye — Carey has done enough to remain part of the rotation.
“Just opportunities presenting themselves,” Carey said. “Just running hard, trying to win games.”
Bears coaches are still figuring out exactly which thing each rusher does best.
“Even with the running backs, you lose Jeremy and now Jordan has stepped up and Ka’Deem is playing more and (Joique) Bell is playing some,” offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said. “So it offers a challenge of understanding what each of those guys does well.”
Even more challenging: the blockers have changed. After the same line combination started the first six games, former Pro Bowl guard Josh Sitton sat Thursday with a right ankle injury. Another Pro Bowler, Kyle Long, left in the second quarter with an arm problem. Eric Kush and Ted Larsen took their place on either side of rookie center Cody Whitehair.
Carey said he tried to make the best of it.
“We picked it up and we found chemistry in that game,” Carey said. “As the game went by I think we started to build a little something-something.”